Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Column: Page One, BNL Zero

This week's column is all about solo projects.

You may remember a few months ago I trashed All in Good Time, the first Barenaked Ladies album since singer Steven Page's departure. It was gray and maudlin and obsessed with striking back at Page. Essentially, it just wasn't any fun. Well, Page has returned to show his old band how it's done. His solo record, Page One, is witty and sharp and a rollicking good time.

Page's album leads off an examination of recent solo debuts, including records from Fran Healy of Travis and Mark Chadwick of the Levellers. Some work better than others, of course. Click on over to read all about it, then head back here to leave me a comment.

Tuesdays with Kevin X

This week's Tuesday song from Kevin Trudo is a cover of the Foundations' 1968 classic "Build Me Up Buttercup." It'll make you smile. This is two weeks in a row Kevin's given us joyful and contented tunes. Makes me kind of suspicious. I think he's up to something.

For now, though, here's your grin of the week:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Column: All We Are Saying...

I was six years old when John Lennon was killed. I have no memories of him whatsoever. My whole life, all I've had is the music. Now Yoko Ono and the Lennon estate have given me a perfect opportunity to revisit that music, by remastering and re-releasing nearly all of John's post-Beatles career.

I said "nearly all" because the Signature Box is frustratingly incomplete, and doesn't include a new (and revelatory) mix of Double Fantasy. But is it still worth owning? You bet. This week at I delve into Lennon's solo catalog, and talk about these newly remastered versions that have just hit stores. If you've never explored Lennon's work beyond "Give Peace a Chance," I'd highly recommend it.

As always, click on over to read the column, then head back here to leave me a comment.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

First Listen: Mt. Desolation

So two guys from a British piano-pop band decide to form a country side project. Sounds like it'd be awful, right? Well, the two guys are Tim Rice-Oxley and Jesse Quin from Keane, and it's actually not bad at all. Of course, it's not really country - you won't hear any authentic shit-kickers or tear-in-your-beer ballads here. But these are good songs - what else would you expect from Rice-Oxley? - and the music, though more mid-tempo pop than anything else, is very good. Rice-Oxley has a decent, if limited voice, as he showed on Keane's recent EP Night Train, and he'll never be mistaken for a country crooner. But that's the only weak link in a very nice collection of tunes. I'm particularly fond of "State of Our Affairs."

Tuesdays with Kevin IX

Kevin Trudo is tired, his voice is ragged, his fingers sore. But he's soul-deep happy, and you can tell on his weekly Tuesday song. This is the kind of thing that only happens when you've set yourself a deadline. As he says in his notes, Kevin only wrote this one this way because of his vocal problems, and the way it turned out is one of a kind. I think it's lovely. It's called "We Made It This Far," and you can hear it at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Column: Simple Things

And speaking of Kevin Trudo, he's my literary device this week over at This week, I took a listen to a pair of albums that yearn for simplicity, something I ordinarily will dismiss after a casual hearing or two. But this time, thanks to discussions I've been having with Kevin about emotional directness in simple music, I spent a little more time with both, trying to hear what he will hear in them. Kevin's going to like both of these albums - Guster's Easy Wonderful and semi-supergroup Tired Pony's The Place We Ran From - a lot more than I do, and I wanted to see if I could understand why.

You can read how I did over at, then head back here to leave me a comment.

Tuesdays with Kevin VII

I'm not at all sure what to say about this week's Kevin Trudo song. It's best if you just hear it for yourself. I know he was up against a deadline, working on the next part of his multi-song suite, and as with anything that puts some pressure on you, this sent him in some fascinating directions. It's a techno-style rant against beat poets and art that means nothing (I think), and it's cleverly titled "I Got Nothin." I quite like it, partially because new directions excite me, but mainly because it's just pretty cool. Check it out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The plan is...

All right, folks, here's what I've decided for my next Twitter live reviews.

On Friday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m., I will take my first spin through Sufjan Stevens' new album The Age of Adz, and review it live on Twitter. You can listen to the album on NPR's site for free if you want to follow along, but it won't be in stores until Oct. 12. I simply won't be able to wait to listen to this one, and I really want to live-review it.

But! On Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m., I will do a second live review, this one of Belle and Sebastian Write About Love. That's available in stores and online a day before, on Oct. 12, so anyone who wants to spin it with me as I review it will be able to. I'll be holding off listening to this one until the live review starts, which will be tough, but will be worth it if more of you guys can join in.

Both events can be found on my Twitter page.

What is a live review? It's me posting my immediate impressions of an album as I hear it for the first time. It's sort of a live performance, in that I'm reacting and typing and responding to other tweets and trying to form critical opinions on the fly. It's fun for me, and I've been trying to come up with ways to make it more fun for you. This is what I've landed on for now. If it works, great. If not, please tell me why.


Friday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m. Live review of Sufjan Stevens' The Age of Adz.

Wednesday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m. Live review of Belle and Sebastian Write About Love.

On my Twitter page.

See you then!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Live Twitter reviews: Your thoughts, please

OK everyone, I'm soliciting opinions again. On Oct. 8, one week from today, I should get my hands on two CDs I am greatly anticipating: Sufjan Stevens' The Age of Adz, and Belle and Sebastian Write About Love. I would like to do live first-listen Twitter reviews of one or both.

There are a few ways I can do this. I can review one or both of them on Friday night, which seems to be a night few people can join in. I can review one on Friday, and one another night. Or, I can try to hold off listening to both until another night, one that's better for more people to participate. Also, if I wait until the CDs are available in stores, you all can listen along with me, if you want.

So what do you think? Which albums on which nights work best for you? Thanks much for any direction you can give here. I love doing these live reviews, but I'd like doing them more with more of you on board.